Exclusively Pumping: Breastfeeding Through a Bottle
For many moms breastfeeding is a dream come true. But for others, it’s a dream never realized. There are many situations that may arise that can prevent a mom from breastfeeding her baby. And, there are some moms who want their babies to have all of the amazing benefits of breast milk but who are simply not comfortable breastfeeding. Luckily, there’s another option: exclusively pumping your breast milk and bottle feeding it to baby. Read on for more information about how to be successful exclusively pumping!
First and foremost, making the decision to exclusively pump, or EP, is not an easy one. Pumping is time consuming, can be painful and, sadly, there is not a lot of support for moms who EP. They’re often told “it’s too hard,” or “your milk will run out”. Yes, it’s hard, but each mom’s EPing journey is different and there are plenty of ways to be successful with EPing!
What You’ll Need
Whether you plan to EP or find that you have to EP, there are several things you’ll want to have on hand for your journey.
- A high quality, double electric pump
- A hands-free pumping bra
- Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags for easy sterilizing of pumping parts
- A few sets of extra pumping parts: extra tubing and extra breast shields with valves and membranes,
- Breast milk storage bottles for the fridge, bags for the freezer, and an organizer to keep stored milk in order
How to Get Started
As we mentioned above, it’s not always easy to make the decision to EP. But once you’ve decided that EPing is best for you and your baby, start pumping right away–even if you’re in the hospital and your milk hasn’t come in yet. If you don’t have a pump, borrow one from the hospital. If you have one, bring it with you and get familiar with it!
In those first few days after you’ve given birth, a 15-minute pumping session may not yield much, but it’s absolutely necessary to begin to establish a good supply.
Developing a Pumping Routine
Once your milk comes in, it’s important to establish a good pumping routine to establish your supply early on.
- Newborns eat between 8 and 12 times a day, so you should aim to pump that many times as well.
- In the beginning feed your baby first, and then once baby is satisfied, put him or her somewhere safe and pump.
- Pump around the clock! This is so important to establish your supply. So, after that 3 am feeding, get pumping! Your highest levels of the hormones for milk production (prolactin) are between 1:00 and 5:00 am so night pumping sessions are super important. Most likely they will be your highest yielding sessions! (1)
- Pump for approximately 15-20 minutes. Experts agree this is just the right amount of time to stimulate the nipples so that they signal the body to continue making enough milk. Any less time and you risk a drop in your supply. And a longer pumping session usually doesn’t mean more milk, so it’s ok to stop around the 20 minute mark if the milk isn’t flowing anymore.
- Stop pumping a minute or two after your milk stops.
- Safely store your breast milk!
Taking Care of your Pump
For those first few months you’ll be pumping so often that it’s necessary to have several sets of pump parts. But, how should you take care of them?
- After pumping, rinse the breast shields and store them in a large ziplock bag or a tupperware container in the fridge in between pumping sessions. Wash them only at the end of the day. While this may sound unsanitary at first, think about it. Breast milk is safe in the fridge for about 5 days. So any residue left on the pump parts certainly won’t be harmful if left there for 24 hours.
- Be careful with the soap you use on your pump parts. Some soaps leave a residue and can affect breast milk.
Medela Quick Clean Breastmilk Removal Soap This hypoallergenic soap is mild and it eliminates the need for scrubbing! Set up a bowl of warm water, squirt some soap in and let the parts soak for a few minutes. Then rinse and your pump parts will be clean!
How Much Milk?
How much milk you produce will vary greatly from mom to mom, so try not to compare yourself to your friend who is exclusively breastfeeding her baby and only pumping here and there or even to another mom who is EPing. Here are a few general guidelines about your milk production.
- Babies who take milk directly from the breast vary their intake at each feeding, so it’s normal for your pumping sessions to yield a varying number of ounces, within reason. You likely won’t express 5 oz at one session and only an ounce the next session. Instead it may be more like 2.5 oz at one session and 3 oz at the next.
- It’s completely normal for one breast to produce more milk than the other! You likely have fewer mammary glands in one breast than in the other.
- Also keep in mind that breastfed babies drink much less breast milk than babies who are on formula. This is because breast milk is so well utilized by your baby’s body that less is needed. However, breast milk is very easily digested, the breastfed baby needs to eat more often, but they don’t need as much per bottle.
- Keep a daily milk log. This will help you see trends in your milk production. Maybe that tight tank top that you love is the culprit for a lower milk supply that day.
- If the flanges are creating a lot of friction, try coating the inside of them with a little organic olive oil before you pump.
- Remember, you are feeding your baby and not the freezer! We know it’s tough, but try not to be too obsessed with how much you are able to freeze in addition to what your baby is eating. Focus on the present!
- Remember, even though you’re EPing, you’re still a breastfeeding mama. Take care of yourself. Eat well, get as much rest as you can with a newborn, and try not to stress. All of these things have an effect on your supply. Check out our post How to: Eat Well while Breastfeeding!
- Pumping is very time consuming, so set the stage. Put your pump in a comfortable, central location (if possible) and keep water, magazines, the iPad and/or a TV nearby.
- Check out online support groups for EPers. If you’re having a tough day or have questions, women in your situation might be able to help or, at the very least, offer you plenty of encouragement.
Exclusively pumping is a big commitment. Breastmilk is best for you baby, so any length of time you pump for is praise-worthy! Way to go mama!
Looking for Un-Nursing Wear?
If you need to add some nursing clothing to your wardrobe, but don’t want to spend money on pieces you’ll only wear for a short period of time, then head on over to Melody Lane for the best in regular clothing that is versatile enough to wear before, during, and after breastfeeding! They offer trendy, classic, and comfortable clothing that is hand-picked for all the life stages women usually experience. With nothing over $100, always free shipping, and new styles featured every season, Melody Lane makes sure your “fashion meets life”.
Tags: babies, bottle feed breast milk, breast feeding, breast is best, breast milk, breastfeed, breastfeeding through a bottle, breastmilk, breastmilk pumping, essentials, exclusive pumping, exclusively pumping, healthy, pumping
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Krista lives in New York with her husband, their 4 year old daughter and 1 year old son. She teaches English at a local college and loves to read, shop, and cook. She enjoys blogging about motherhood at The Quinntessential Mommy. You can contact her via email, twitter or visit her blog.